Enterprise Scion Chrissy Taylor to Become Car Rental Giant’s CEO

Enterprise Holdings, the largest U.S. rental car company, said on Wednesday that chief operating officer Chrissy Taylor would take on the role of chief executive in a planned succession. Taylor, the granddaughter of company founder Jack Taylor, will take the wheel on January 1.

Taylor, Enterprise’s COO since 2016, will replace Pam Nicholson, the No. 23 person on the Fortune Most Powerful Women in business list. Nicholson has been CEO since 2013.

Taylor’s promotion to company president earlier this year was a clear signal the 43-year-old was poised to succeed Nicholson. She will become the third member of the Taylor family to lead the business her grandfather started in 1957 as a leasing company. Her father, Andy, was CEO from 1991 to 2013 and currently serves as executive chairman. The privately-held Enterprise, which Jack Taylor began with seven cars, now has a fleet of 2 million vehicles.

Chrissy Taylor says she has earned the top job by preparing for it for years, conceding she had an edge as a family member.

“Just like everybody else in our upper management, I started behind a rental counter,” Taylor told Fortune in an exclusive interview. “I worked my way up in various roles, learning the job by doing it: washing cars, picking up customers.”

Enterprise, which owns its namesake brand along with National Car Rental, Alamo Rent A Car, and Enterprise Fleet Management, is by far the biggest car rental agency: its 2018 revenue came to $25.9 billion, almost three times that of Avis Budget or Hertz Global Holdings, which are similar in size.

Taylor will be taking over the company at a time when the traditional car rental business model is under threat. While its main rivals have long focused on airport locations, and are now trying to diversify their geographic footprint, Enterprise early in its history focused on locations in cities and suburbs closer to where people live and work, helping it dominate the off-airport market. It also has a massive truck rental business.

Now the big three are in a tech arms race to update their businesses and find new revenue streams. Avis, for one, is in the process of connecting all of its cars to the internet. The goal is to enable better fleet management with features such as remotely gauging fuel levels and the ability to lock and unlock a car from a smart phone. It can also collect data it can sell to entities such as transportation departments and car manufacturers. Enterprise and Hertz are making similar moves.

In the past year, Enterprise has been on dealmaking tear to protect its standing in the car rental wars, acquiring travel tech platform Deem and investing in fuel-delivery service Booster. It also launched the U.S. car-rental industry’s first vehicle-subscription service. In all, Enterprise has spent $3 billion in the last few years on acquisitions and updating its tech.

“As long as we continue to build on that portfolio and listen to customers, we will grow,” Taylor says.  

Over the course of her nearly two decades at Enterprise, starting as a management trainee in 2000 at a branch in the St. Louis area, where Enterprise is based, Chrissy Taylor has worked in nearly every aspect of the business. She gradually moved up from being a trainee to a branch manager to working on matters like fleet management and IT to operations at the corporate level.

After spending two years building the Enterprise brand in the U.K., Taylor returned to the U.S. in 2008 to manage the e-commerce businesses of National and Alamo, which Enterprise had recently acquired. She eventually went on to work on projects ranging from a luxury rental business to car sharing, which has now grown into the second-largest car sharing business in the world.

“I am ready to go,” Taylor said of her impending ascent to the corner office.

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